Sad news: Nelson Amiro, long time board member and former membership secretary of TAA, passes away

Nelson Amiro

We are sad to announce that Nelson Amiro, long time board member and former membership secretary of TAA, passed away on Feb. 24, 2017, at the age of 95, after a brief illness.

Born in Middle East Pubnico he was the son of the late Irene (Amirault) and Mark Augustin Amiro. Beginning at age nine Nelson travelled weekly from his home to the N.S. School for the Blind in Halifax using CN mixed passenger trains, and thus a railfan was born. His time at the School for the Blind opened his world to opportunities including music, gymnastics, and education. He then completed grade 12 in the public school system and went on to Dalhousie University. After graduating, he began a long career as a teacher and principal of schools in Clarke’s Harbour, Liverpool, Chester Basin, Chester, and Herring Cove. While in Chester Basin he met Irene Louise McClare who became his wife of 57 years (died 2005).

Upon retirement he operated a tutoring service in Halifax. Nelson was a very accomplished organist and pianist and had a taste for classical music. A Christmas Eve tradition was a family gathering to play songs. One of his great passions was train travel. This led him to an involvement in Transport Action Atlantic. Lasting friendships resulted from this association. Nelson joined TAA (then Transport 2000) in 1981, and served as membership secretary for more than a decade. His dedication to that role was well recognized both within TAA, and at the national levels of Transport Action.

He and Irene enjoyed many trips throughout North America by train. In later years, he continued his train travel, often with family, one highlight being an Amtrak trip from Boston to New York to celebrate his 90th birthday. John Pearce (TAA President Emeritus) recalls that in retirement, Nelson and his wife Irene would take the Ocean overnight to Montreal, staying just 9 hours in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and returning to Halifax by the next train.

He is survived by his son Gerard (Tona Hennigar), daughter Charlotte Penney (Stephen), son Michael (Elaine Keller), grandchildren Matthew and Daniel Penney, and Claire and Fae Amiro. Besides his wife, Nelson was predeceased by his brother Gilbert, sister Evelyn and granddaughter Jillian Penney.

Visitation will be held at J A Snow Funeral Home, 339 Lacewood Drive, Halifax, on Wednesday, March 1, from 7 – 9 pm. A Memorial Service will be held at the same venue on Thursday, March 2, at 10 am, with reception to follow. At a later date, burial of ashes will be in South Rawdon Baptist Church Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Transport Action Atlantic, The Canadian Cancer Society or the CNIB.

Nelson’s support for passenger rail will live on long after his departure this past week, and the whole organization will owe a debt of support through his work and enthusiasm.   

Adapted from published obituary, with comments from John Pearce, TAA President Emeritus.